We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

This is the country Dems wish an open border with ???

Then the coup de grace: as the Chapo sons’ forces engaged in direct combat with their own national military, kill squads went into action across Culiacán, slaughtering the families of soldiers engaged in the streets.

The report is from an (understandably!) anonymous informant, h/t instapundit, who comments,

This is getting very little coverage in the US

(The BBC covered it yesterday but it’s off their website frontpage today and searching ‘Mexico’ doesn’t find it – you have to know the story specifics to find it.)

We want a less open border with the EU, but I have to admit this kind of thing makes the Calais camp, and even Merkel’s million, look tame by comparison.

Samizdata quote of the day

By the end of my teaching career, ahistorical undergraduate students were becoming disturbingly common. They did not know the hellish poverty the vast majority of humanity had endured for millennia. They didn’t believe the past could have been as brutal as writers such as Matt Ridley described in his book The Rational Optimist. Even worse, exposed to hard evidence, some students refuse to question their positions.

Camille Paglia explains that because “Everything is so easy now, [undergrads] have a sense that this is the way life has always been.” Paglia continues, “Because they’ve never been exposed to history, they have no idea that these are recent attainments that come from a very specific economic system.”

Capitalism, she continues, has “produced this cornucopia around us. But the young seem to believe in having the government run everything.”

Barry Brownstein

What’s going on with men’s magazines these days (not the naughty kind)?

Time and again multinationals and public companies turn out to be as happy as junior members of the Royal Family to sign up to an ideology which will come to eat them next. If anyone is in any doubt about this trend, they should look to the men’s magazine GQ – or what we should more properly describe as the former men’s magazine, GQ.

Douglas Murray.

By the way, a guy in the US called Brett McKay became so fed up with men’s magazines, because they were often about how to get “six-pack abs”, implausibly expensive gear and full of ads, that he decided to create his own website, Art of Manliness, which adopts a deliberately retro look. It’s actually pretty good, with plenty of podcasts to tune into. I get the impression it is pretty conservative (small c) politically and culturally, and has a slightly worrying admiration for that old monster, Teddy Roosevelt, but a lot of it contains content a lot more thoughtful than you will get out of a glossy at WH Smith. Here is an interview with McKay by the inimitable Mark Rippetoe, the “Starting Strength” strength training coach, who is based out of Wichita Falls, Texas.

By the way, Rippetoe is not very “woke”.

Ulster for Beginners – Part IX

This is the final part and on a day when Ulster politics could have a big impact on British and by extension EU politics. I hope to put up a follow up post – Reflections 20 years on, that sort of thing – but I hope all sorts of things that I never get round to.

Britain’s Role (continued)

Almost since the moment the Troubles began, British governments have been is search of what T E Utley described as the “mythical centre”. There is a belief that with just a few tweaks here and a few drops of the old diplomatic oil there, a solution can be found that can satisfy all. Thus Ulster has seen a succession of negotiations since 1973, all of which have ended in failure of greater or lesser magnitude. Ulster’s colonial masters simply cannot seem to get to grips with the idea that there are some disputes which cannot be resolved by compromise. The politicians might as well have tried finding a compromise between driving on the left and driving on the right. Or between a murderer and his intended victim. Or jumping out of a window and not jumping out of a window (elasticated ropes perhaps?). There is a reason for this. There is no compromise between going to war and not going to war. Or being governed by people you trust and people you do not trust. Or being forced to learn Gaelic and not being forced to learn Gaelic.

[Slightly overegging the omelette here but the point is clear enough: there is no compromise to be had.]

This belief in compromise has led to successive governments making all nature of concessions to nationalists. In the early stages this included standing down the B-Specials, disarming the RUC, permitting the creation of No-Go areas and generally taking a softly, softly approach towards terrorism. In more recent times the Government has sought to appease nationalism by introducing “Fair Employment” legislation, signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement and declaring that it had “no selfish, strategic or economic interest” in the Province.

[I should perhaps explain what a “no-go” area is. Or was. It is an area the police and the army do not enter. According to unionists this gave the IRA the opportunity to arm and organise.]

Such compromises might have been justified had they had the effect of reducing tension. Of course, they have done no such thing. The IRA had taken enormous comfort from government concessions, seeing them as a reward for their campaign of violence. Meanwhile nationalists, far from running out of things to complain about, have merely switched from demanding civil rights to demanding joint sovereignty.

Although government policy towards Ulster has, in many ways, been weak, there is one area where the Government has been right. Throughout the Troubles the Government has accepted the principle of self-determination and that the people of Ulster have the right to determine their own destiny. Credit where credit is due.

The Way Ahead

Ulster’s tragedy is uncertainty. For the best part of thirty years they have had to suffer a government whose actions have been contradictory and confusing. While Ulster’s people are unsure of their destiny and governments make little effort to put their minds at rest then there will always be those who believe that violence can pay political dividends. On the other hand, were there no doubt that Ulster was British and was going to stay that way then the IRA would soon lose support and melt away.

[Is this true? This question came up in a Samizdata post in its very early days. The best explanation I thought for the peace that had broken out was the collapse of the Soviet Union. All of a sudden, the supply of arms dried up. Which I suppose suggests that there is little fear of a resurgence in republicanism – unless that is a post-Brexit European Union gets into the arms-smuggling business.]

Part VIII

Spaced Out review

Found on the 8-12 shelf, Space Case by Stuart Gibbs is a science fiction adventure story set on a realistic moon base in which its twelve-year-old protagonist helps to solve a murder mystery. Its sequel, Spaced Out, is about a missing person mystery. A relatable protagonist, some science fiction with proper science, a location with opportunity for adventure and an engaging mystery: these ought to be great ingredients for a book my son could enjoy.

The first problem, however, is that the protagonist is very negative about living on the moon. It would be possible to complain a bit about the poor food and the lack of space while also being excited and in awe of the achievement of living on the moon. But no, there is no upside. Even the boredom is only relieved by terrible events, leading the protagonist to yearn for boredom once more. And he’s not an inspiring chap who faces his challenges head on, with aplomb. He mostly moans about things or is scared. Instead of being relieved to get out of the micrometeorite storm alive, after the discovery of a hole in the top layers of his suit, the author dwells on his fear and dislike of returning outside even when the threat of incoming meteorites disappears.

Minor spoiler in the next paragraph…

→ Continue reading: Spaced Out review

What airports tell us about a police state

Kevin D Williamson doesn’t hesitate to put the boot in:

With apologies to Margaret Atwood and a thousand other dystopian novelists, we do not have to theorize about what an American police state would look like, because we know what it looks like: the airport, that familiar totalitarian environment where Americans are disarmed, stripped of their privacy, divested of their freedom of speech, herded around like livestock, and bullied by bovine agents of “security” in a theatrical process that has an 85 percent failure rate because it isn’t designed as a security-screening protocol at all but as a jobs program for otherwise unemployable morons.

Now, when I hear the words “otherwise unemployable morons,” I think of Robert Francis O’Rourke and his sad little presidential campaign, which suffered a little setback on Tuesday night when the gentleman who advertises himself as “Beto” tried out some tough-guy shtick on Pete Buttigieg, who is, whatever else you can say about him, a veteran of the Afghanistan campaign, one who rightly pointed out that he doesn’t have to prove his “courage” to the idiot son of a well-connected El Paso political family who has done almost nothing with his life other than show himself a reasonably effective fundraiser in the family business.

O’Rourke is a cretin, and an ambitious cretin at that. And what are his ambitions? Turning America into the airport.

Matt Ridley speaks with authority to Julia Hartley-Brewer

Yes, I’ve been watching and listening to this conversation, between climate anti-alarmist and all-round rational optimist Matt Ridley and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer. If you like hearing things talked about as well as merely written about, I recommend this conversation, which lasts just under an hour.

Today here seems to be the day for denouncing Extinction Rebellion, and Ridley does that very persuasively. But there is a lot more. I’m just hearing Ridley say that climate change policies now kill far more people than climate change. … Now he’s talking about how much greener the earth is becoming. The idea that we need to be planting trees to make the earth greener is absurd.

My one mild disagreement with Ridley came about a third of the way in, when he says that science never involves arguments from authority. I know what he means. But, arguments from authority abound in the wider debate about climate science. Ridley makes sure to strip away the authority of whichever climate catastrophist he talks about. And he also makes sure to speak in a suitably measured manner himself, thereby enhancing his own authority.

For the truth is that people like Ridley have proved very authoritative. Many of the idiot children of the governing classes seem really to believe that climate catastrophe is imminent. Many more of the governing classes like climate catastrophe, because it is a fine excuse for them to do more governing. But people generally seem to remain unconvinced in their millions.

Certainly today’s foolishness from Extinction Rebellion, in the form of people climbing onto electric trains, really does seem to have been an own goal, as Natalie explained. Screwing with public transport really does undermine any authority these people may now have.

And just as we can all see these Extinction Rebels doing their rebelling, and especially when it looks very silly, we can also listen to the likes of Matt Ridley saying what he has to say. For all the biases and bullying of Facebook, Twitter and the rest of them, they can’t silence all of us anti-alarmists, all the time. And the difference between hearing some anti-alarmism, every so often, and never hearing any anti-alarmism at all from one decade to the next, is, when it comes to shaping public opinion, all the difference. The climate alarmist camp has spread a lot of climate alarmism in the last few years. But millions remain stubbornly skeptical, this being an important strand in the rising tide of what is called “populism”. (“Populism” means popular opinions that the people who don’t attach sneer quotes to the word populism don’t like.) Given how much governing class plugging climate extremism gets, it’s amazing how little it is talked about when elections come around.

Like Ridley, I am an optimist, not only about the state of humanity in general, but about the possibility that the foolishness now being spread by Extinction Rebellion may soon find itself in retreat.

LATER: Several people have also recommended to me this interview, which lasts a mere ten minutes.

Samizdata limerick of the day

As seen on a person’s Facebook feed, in relation to those Extinction Rebellion characters as referenced in the post immediately below this one:

There once was an extinction rebellion
Led by a diminutive hellion
Who lives in a yurt
And is covered in dirt
With beliefs distinctly Orwellian.

Enjoy!

People power!

“Commuters now physically dragging [Extinction Rebellion] protestors from the roof of the train”, reports ITV’s Holly Collins. If it will not cause a problem where you are for you to cheer out loud, watch that video.

A few points:

– There is some violence on both sides. Trumpian, I know, but there is. The Extinction Rebellion protester appears to be the first to kick someone, but then the crowd all pile on him at once. Don’t cheer that. But if Extinction Rebellion think “physical action” is allowed for them, why the hell shouldn’t physical action also be permitted to ordinary people? People trying to get to work from Canning Town Underground station at 7 a.m. do not generally have the sort of jobs where one can ring in and say, “I’ll work from home today”. They cannot afford to be late.

– Why are XR targeting Tube stations anyway? I thought public transport was supposed to be environmentally friendly. Update: It’s because there is an Emergency. Seriously, from their own website: “This morning (Thursday 17 October) a number of Extinction Rebellion UK affinity groups are peacefully disrupting the London Underground because there is an Emergency.” Not just any old emergency, one with a capital E.

Edit: There’s more! A longer video courtesy of “sid@1968Sid69” of the same incident from a different angle, showing the second Extinction Rebellion protester suffering what TV Tropes calls an “Oh, Crap!” moment and duly being pulled off the roof of the train in his turn.

Stackoverflow and pronouns

Stackoverflow is a website so focused on getting good technical answers to good technical questions that thank-you notes are removed because they are noise. And yet somehow there is now a 17 point FAQ about the gender pronoun rules recently added to the code of conduct. Says one response:

I am all in favor of wanting to be respected, I really do, but this is the most overhead to “don’t be mean” I have ever seen.

Another takes aim at the people who run the web site:

Putting identity politics front-and-center in what is supposed to be a neutral, objective Q&A environment promotes division and strife, not inclusion, and more importantly, it distracts from the primary mission of these sites: getting good answers to good questions. Our values reject it.

If you truly value your community, that means respecting the community’s values, not attempting to impose new and incompatible ones by fiat. Your values are out of alignment with the values of the community you are supporting. Please fix them.

Another points out that too many rules do not help:

I would very much like if we could all get along. We have rules and moderators because in a big community, there’ll always be a few participants who can’t get along. But increasingly, getting along is against the rules.

One of two things is going on.

  • This is just people on the Internet arguing because they can and anyone with things to get done will simply ignore them.
  • This is an example of an attempt to infiltrate and change a community, and the resistance to this attempt.

See also: Linux and its code of conduct.

Truly the other side of the world

“More than 60% of voters approve of major parties’ performance” reports today’s Guardian.

Well, actually tomorrow’s Guardian, because it’s the Australian edition. I saw that headline and thought I had slipped into a parallel universe. A happier one:

While national politics frets about its trust crisis, the bulk of Australian voters appear reasonably sanguine with both of the major parties five months on from the federal election, with more than 60% of the Guardian Essential sample rating the performance of the Coalition and Labor as excellent, good or fair.

Such contentment is strange to see when one considers how alienating and painful the Guardian commentariat found Scott Morrison’s surprise election victory in May:

The woman checking my name off the list around 8pm is angry and crying and saying, “I don’t get it, we went in with policies, they went in with nothing.”

Inside it is awful. This is meant to be Bill Shorten’s victory party, but the energy is heavy – as if some trauma had taken place and a great shock was being absorbed. Inside no one is talking, and if they are, it is quietly and involves references to franking credits.

I do not post Brigid Delaney’s article merely to mock. I could relate to her sense of shock at discovering that half your country does not, after all, broadly share your values that she describes in the following passage:

In 2016 Britain voted for Brexit and America for Trump. In those countries, part of the national trauma was the realisation that one part of the country was so ill-acquainted with the other part. Citizens stopped knowing each other. The polls got it wrong, the media got it wrong, people were so siloed in their own tribes and social media bubbles that the other side winning felt like a profound shock. Like it wasn’t meant to happen. The falcon couldn’t hear the falconer and all that. And in those countries, it’s only gotten worse. Part of the damage in the years since has been the hardening of the lines and divisions between these tribes, between red and blue.

(Though in my case the sense of shock came from realising just how many people support a limited democracy like that of Iran, in which one may only vote for options within a permitted range.)

And yet five months after that day when the chasm opened, here we are: “more than 60% of the Guardian Essential sample rating the performance of the Coalition and Labor as excellent, good or fair”. The falcon hears the falconer just fine, thank you and the shape with the lion body and the head of a man and a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun is snuggled up next to the rough beast and snoring gently.

What is Scott Morrison doing right?

Elf surveillance

Getting the next generation ready for the surveillance state.